Information Requests filed in ITC transmission docket

Filed under:Information Requests,ITC MN & IA 345 kV — posted by admin on February 17, 2014 @ 10:06 am


That’s a photo of a transmission tower from the SW MN 345 kV line from Split Rock (Sioux Falls) to Lakefield Junction. You know how I’m always saying, “It’s all connected!”  Well, that line from Split Rock (Sioux Falls) to Lakefield Junction, PUC Docket 01-1958) way back over a decade ago, is just one segment of a long-ago proposed transmission option,and it’s all coming together over time.

There is now an ITC project at the PUC, planned to extend the Split Rock – Lakefield Junction eastward from Lakefield Junction to a new substation in Huntley, and then south into Iowa. Here’s some background on ITC from a FERC Order in docket EL12-104-000:


Now, back to the ITC project, from Lakefield Junction to a new substation in Huntley, and then south into Iowa Certificate of Need docket ET-6675/CN-12-1053, and Routing docket ET-6675/TL-12-1337 (to look at dockets, go to PUC SEARCH PAGE, and search for dockets 12-1053 and/or 12-1337).  Citizens Energy Task Force and No CapX 2020 have intervened because this is yet another link from South Dakota towards Madison.  Of note, Wind on the Wires, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Fresh Energy, and Izaak Walton League have intervened, first Wind on the Wires, and then MCEA, Fresh Energy and IWLA.  Also of note, Bill Grant was appointed by Gov. Dayton as Deputy Commissioner of Commerce, to head Commerce’s part in energy dockets, and relevant here, heading Commerce in their work on need and routing decisions.

Today, I served a few Information Requests to get at this history and the actions and contracts of Wind on the Wires, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Fresh Energy, and Izaak Walton League, and Bill Grant’s role regarding transmission:

Information Request 1_Commerce

Information Request 2_Commerce

Information Request 1_MCEA et al

Information Request 2_MCEA et al

Information Request 3-4_MCEA et al

Information Request 5_MCEA et al

Information Request 6_MCEA et al

Information Request 7_MCEA et al

Responses will be posted here.

Now let’s take a look at the origin of this ITC line, or other instances where this segment has been proposed as a part of something big and dirty.  It’s ancient history, but it’s consistent, a pattern has been developed.

The Split Rock – Lakefield Junction transmission was part of a transmission for coal line, a project that was contracted for and studied specifically for use as outlet for coal, promoted in “Lignite Vision 21,” developed in 1999-2000:

Here’s the map found in their “Lignite Vision 21” study (Lignite Vision 21 Transmission Study):


The “Split Rock – Lakefield Junction” and “Lakefield Junction – Winnebago” segments are also part of a plan also going all the way back to 1998-1999 to  the WIREs Report,Phase II, where a South Dakota to Wisconsin 345 kV project studied in WIREs Phase I, labeled 9a, from S Huron-Split Rock-Lakefield Jct–Adams, Adams–Genoa–Columbia, 345 kV was shortened to “Plan 9b (Lakefield – Columbia 345 kV):

WIREs-Lakefield-Columbia 9b

Following WIREs Phase II came the Wisconsin Reliability Assessment Organization Report (WRAO), where they brought forward the shortened segment from Lakefield Jct., in Minnesota, to Columbia, in Wisconsin (Madison area):


In 1999, about this same time, there was a Merger Agreement between ME3 (now Fresh Energy), Izaak Walton League, and ELPC (formerly handling legal for ME3 and Waltons), which included this paragraph on transmission:


Not so coincidentally, the SW MN 345 kV transmission line with a rating of ~2,100 MVA was approved by the PUC with conditions that NSP/Xcel sign PPAs for 675 MW of new wind on Buffalo Ridge, and install 825 MW of wind on Buffalo Ridge, and make network service requests to MISO for 825 MW of wind (not location specific), and sign PPAs for 60 MW of small locally owned wind, etc. Remember those numbers, 2,100 MVA, 675 MW, and 825 MVA!


The SW Minnesota CoN proceeding for four transmission lines became, to some, the “825MW of transmission for wind” even though it’s not.

Not long after a hilarious meeting (if it weren’t so slimy and disgusting) where Beth Soholt, WOW, and Matt Schuerger, ME3 at that time, tried to get a group of us to “approve” the Split Rock – Lakefield 345 kV line, NSP applied for that SW MN Split Rock – Lakefield Jct 345 kV line (PUC Docket 01-1958).  As that docket moved forward, particularly during the hearings, negotiations were ongoing between NSP (now Xcel) and MCEA, Izaak Walton League,ME3 (now Fresh Energy) and North American Water Office, resulting in a “Community Wind” agreement, and at the same time, one with wide-ranging terms about transmission (remember, Petitioners in this case were Northern States Power d/b/a Xcel Energy and Interstate Power and Light, the IPL that formerly owned the transmission system now owned and operated by ITC Midwest) (Interstate Power and Light Company (IPL) and Wisconsin Power and Light Company (WPL) are Alliant Energy’s two utility subsidiaries)(makes my head spin…), anyway, here’s that deal:

Settlement Agreement – MCEA, Waltons, ME3, NAWO filed with PUC 6/23/03

To look at the TRANSLink docket, go to PUC SEARCH PAGE and search for docket 02-2152, a very interesting read.

Then, in 2005, we got the Transmission Omnibus Bill from Hell, Minn. Session Laws, Chapter 97, giving the utilities all they could possibly want to get CapX 2020 rolling through Minnesota, thanks in large part to promotional lobbying efforts of Bill Grant, Izaak Walton League, and George Crocker, North American Water Office — their transmission legacy.

And in 2006, Wind on the Wires (at that time a program and major revenue stream of Izaak Walton League), with AWEA, et al., proposed a DOE NIETC transmission corridor covering much of southern Minnesota:

WOW Comment_DOE_NIETC_3-6-06

Here’s part of the map from the Comment (note the CapX lines) and pay particular attention to the square one in the middle, with a truncated version of WRAO/WIREs 9a and Lignite Vision 21, the addition from Lakefield Jct. headed east:

ITC Midwest has proposed this new 345 kV transmission line that looks a lot like this one above, an extension of the Split Rock – Lakefield Jct. line, heading east from Lakefield Junction to a new substation in Huntley, and then south into Iowa.  Here’s the Minnesota part (it’s as if the IA part of it doesn’t exist), click for bigger version: Map from 20132-83982-01-1

And this is a more complete conceptual mapping from the ITC MVP Study #3 showing some Iowa options:

ITC MVP Study 3

This transmission docket is ongoing, both Certificate of Need (CLICK HERE FOR PUC’S SEARCH PAGE, search for PUC Docket 12-1053) and the Routing docket (CLICK HERE FOR PUC’S SEARCH PAGE, search for PUC Docket 12-1337).  No CapX and Citizens Energy Task Force have intervened, in a limited way, to get an idea of the big picture and file a brief in on this project.  We’ll see how this goes.

Substation terrorism blackout — news blackout

Filed under:News coverage,Nuts & Bolts — posted by admin on February 13, 2014 @ 8:41 am


Talk about being behind the curve…  and NSA’s going to push my stats up!

Very strange timing here — an incident where “multiple transformers,” 17 transformers, or 5 transformers, 5 out of 7 transformer banks, depending what you read/hear, were taken out occurred on April 16, 2013, and it’s just now being reported.  Try googling “news blackout California substation electrical terrorism” and see what comes up.  Maybe it’s that former FERC chair Wellinghoff is out there talking about it?  There was also a congressional hearing in December that got some coverage…

At the time, the incident wasn’t publicized, but since he stepped down as FERC chairman in November, Wellinghoff is raising public attention to the California sniper’s attack to demonstrate the vulnerability of the nation’s electricity system.

Wellinghoff started talking about it publicly in November, 2013 it seems.

Do some googling and see for yourself the news blackout.  Also,several articles are noting it occurred a day after the Boston Marathon bombing, but not one yet is noting that it occurred the day after taxes are due.  How many anti-tax wing-nuts are out there?

They publicized similar sabotage in Arkansas and arrested the perp (interesting, he unbolted a tower, connected a cable, and used a moving train to tip over the pole!):

Arkansas man charged in connection with power grid sabotage

Back to California — here’s what the substation and surrounding area looks like, and the actions taken, from the Wall Street Journal article:


In today’s STrib:

Who knocked out 17 giant transformers in Calif. — and why?

In the Wall Street Journal (I don’t have access… do you?):

Assault on California Power Station Raises Alarm for Potential Terrorism

From PG&E at the time:

April 16, 2013

Grid Operator Calls for Conservation after Substation Incident

April 17, 2013

PG&E Crews Continue Repair Work at Damaged Substation

Now going back to April, 2013:

Vandalism at San Jose PG&E Substation called ‘Sabotage’

AT&T Offers $250,000 Reward for Fiber Vandalism

CAISO’s Alert:

Flex-Alert-Urgent Conservation Needed Now – Santa Clara Silicon Valley  April 16, 2013

Here’s one from December, 2013, that is the most detailed and credible I’ve found:

‘Military-Style’ raid on California Power Station Spooks U.S.

In this one there’s a statement that’s a recurring theme that I think is off base, the theme being that it’s a rehearsal for a “real” attack, and in other articles calling it a “dry run,” when I’d call taking out 17 transformers a “real” attack:

“These were not amateurs taking potshots,” Mark Johnson, a former vice president for transmission operations at PG&E, said last month at a conference on grid security held in Philadelphia. “My personal view is that this was a dress rehearsal” for future attacks.

Another good detailed article in the NY Times:

Months Later, Sniper Attack at Power Hub Still a Mystery

And a video:

San Jose: Sheriff’s Office release video of attach on PG&E substation


Sniper Attack on Calif. Power Station Raises Terrorism Fears

In Bloomberg:

Rifle-Toting Terrorists Pose Great Threat to Power Grid

Now let’s see some other coverage that I’ll nominate for “wing-nut” status:

False Flag: New Details Emerge on Santa Clara County ‘Military-Style” Power Grid Attack

Latest ‘Domestic Terror’ Sniper Attack is Likely a Government False Flag

In which they say:

Those who still believe that this was the work of a home-grown terror cell, read between their own lines: according to the U.S. Navy investigation ordered at the request of  FERC chairman Wellinghoff, “it was a targeting package just like they would put together for an attack”.

‘Just like they would put together for a real attack’, he says?

Exactly, because this wasn’t a real terror attack.  ???  Again the mantra of a “dress rehearsal” or a “dry run.”  Isn’t taking out the fiber-optic and 911 service and then multiple substation transformers “real” enough?

Chilling: Why an Underreported, ‘Significant Incident of Domestic Terrorism’ Might Not Be A Failed Attack At All

In today’s STrib, the full article:

Who knocked out 17 giant transformers in Calif. — and why?

WASHINGTON – They came after midnight, two or more armed individuals who cut telecommunication cables in an underground vault and outsmarted security cameras and motion sensors at the power substation in a remote corner of Santa Clara County.

At daylight, FBI agents began poring over time-lapse photographs from the surveillance cameras. But the photos revealed only muzzle flashes from a semi-automatic weapon and sparks as shots hit rows of transformers. There was not a face, not a shadow, of who was doing the firing.

The shooters vanished before the first police arrived.

The military-style raid on April 16 knocked out 17 giant transformers at the Metcalf Transmission Substation, which feeds power to Silicon Valley. The FBI is still working the case, and agents say they are confident it was not the work of terrorists.

What they do not have is a motive, fingerprints or suspects. Theories are piling up.


WI PSC – Applicants Response and our Reply

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on February 3, 2014 @ 11:34 am

20140117_122334_1_resizedCLICK HERE FOR WEBCAST – FEB 5 @ 1:30 P.M.

Isn’t that a depressing sight?  This is the Hampton substation, on Hwy. 52 just north of Hwy. 50.  It’s where CapX Hampton-La Crosse connects into the Prairie Island line, or vice versa…  They’re putting up the big poles heading in from the west, it’s happening right now (these are a couple of weeks old, I’ve been sick as a dog and not going anywhere lately).


Last week, Applicants responded to the CETF/SOUL of Wisconsin Petition to Reopen, and so starting with our Petition, here’s where it’s at:

FILED_CETF-SOUL Request to Reopen

Xcel Response

CETF SOUL Reply to Applicants Response FINAL

There’s a Wisconsin PSC meeting on Wednesday, but it seems to be top secret.  But the twits tweeted it so here ya go:

PSC Wisconsin ‏@PSCWisconsin Jan 30

Today’s Open Meeting is adjourned, please join us Wednesday, February 5, 2014, at 1:30 PM for the next Open Meeting.

Agenda?  Who knows.  You’ll have to watch it on their webcast!



image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace